The wood on the exterior frame and trim of your home is exposed to extreme environmental fluctuations throughout the year: it is constantly subject to the gaze of the sun’s harsh UV rays, expanding and warping due to direct exposure to moisture, beat down by the wind, and withstanding harsh temperatures – either freezing or sweltering. The wood might even be eaten away by insect pests such as termites.
All these elements can result in the wood rotting, which, in turn, can have numerous devastating effects rendering your home’s structural integrity much weaker. Reputable painting services should be aware of these possibilities and not only refuse to paint over it, but offer repair or replacement when possible.
What is Wood Rot?
Wood rot is caused by continuous exposure to moisture, either by leaking or natural environmental conditions (i.e., humidity, rain, fog, etc.). Mildew, mold, and pests can all lead to wood rot as well, as these either introduce or require moisture for their persistence. (Insect pests are not the only ones that present the threat of causing wood rot. Even pests such as raccoons can cause wood rot with continued exposure to a small area.)
This is especially a threat to the exterior of your home, as it is most likely to experience such impacts when compared to the interior. The fungal growth that results from continuous moisture exposure will cause further degradation, so it is important to address signs of wood rot as soon as possible.
Wood rot is most likely to occur in the following areas:
- Wooden window frames
- Exterior doors
Unfortunately, this is often not something that can be easily patched. Instead, it must be replaced by a professional to eliminate the problem.
What a Professional Painting Service Should Do
Professional painting services should know how to identify wood rot right away and be able to solve the issue for you. Oftentimes, they will repair this issue by replacing the affected unit and following up the repair with protective paint. This will not only improve the area aesthetically, but functionally as well, increasing longevity. Note that every company will have its own unique approach to solving this issue. There are three main categories for these approaches:
- Some companies will opt to replace the affected area entirely. The affected wood is removed, along with neighboring pieces, to ensure that the rot did not, and will not, spread. This is the best chance at preventing the issue from recurring in the future. In this scenario, the treatment would look like this:
- All affected wood is removed and replaced.
- The new wood is coated in a protective paint to support longevity and aesthetics.
- The entire home exterior is then coated with long-lasting exterior sealant, a primer, and high-quality exterior paint.
- Others simply treat the affected area(s) without removing anything. Further still, some companies will only repair/treat areas if they are relatively small. This could go two ways:
- Apply fungicide, such as boric acid, to the affected area. This kills the growth of the rot on a chemical level, preventing the problem from spreading or progressing in severity in its current location.
- The fungicide is then followed up with a filler, which provides further stability to the wood (if there were any cracked, broken, or weakened areas in the unit, the filler will make up for this).
Note: This is not a permanent solution! This is only a temporary measure since the rotted wood and neighboring pieces will have to be replaced in the future. Though fungicide is effective, it is not an end-all solution.
Depending on the extent of the damage from wood rot and the capabilities of the painting company, in some situations a professional painting company will refer you to a company that specializes in structural repairs for a thorough replacement.
Some companies suggest replacing the rotted wood with PVC, especially if the impact has been extensive. This can help to prevent future outbreaks, as the fungus responsible for dry rot does not find plastic habitable. Even as your home continues to be exposed to the dangers of moisture and spores that may still be present, the conditions will no longer be ideal for the fungus to colonize the area.
As demonstrated by the strategies listed above, many professional painting services have unique approaches to the repair or replacement of rotted wood. While some will not fix it at all and defer you to another service, others will only repair a small bit, while others will replace the affected area entirely. Either way, a reputable paint service should know how to identify wood rot in the first place and will never simply paint over this area.
How to Identify Wood Rot in Your Home
To prevent any serious occurrences of wood rot in your home, you’ll need to know how to identify it before it spreads. Signs that your home is affected by wood rot include:
- Chalky buildup
- Blistering or peeling paint
- Dark stains (either on the wood or paint)
- Mushroom-like formations
Many of these signs are consequences of the collection of moisture in the affected area. As the wood soaks up the moisture, it expands and warps, causing the paint to lose its integrity as its foundation changes shape and orientation. The dark stains are a direct consequence of either (or both) of the water collecting at that site or a collection of spores. Spore dust can be anywhere from orange to brown in color, resulting in the dark patch you may find around the home. Strands of the spores – known as “hyphae” – may also extend to other areas outside of the site of concentration. These appear similar to cobwebs and can gradually degrade the wood.
The chalky build-up and mushroom-like growths are directly attributed to fungal growth. The “mycelium,” as it is known, may appear similar to the mold you’re used to seeing on bread. They can take any of the following textures:
To confirm and resolve any suspicions of wood rot prior to painting, you’ll need to enlist the help of
a professional carpentry and painting company, like Catchlight Painting. This way, you can rest assured that the job will be done right and the problem will not reoccur in the future.